Canadian Manufacturing

Report: Retiring boomers creating a skills shortage

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada says more than half of Canadian businesses are having trouble finding workers with critical skills; long-term planning is advised to adjust to a tightened labour market

May 18, 2017  by Canadian Staff

OTTAWA—Rising retirement rates are creating a shortage of skilled labour.

This is according to a new Conference Board of Canada report, Workforce Planning Practices in Canada, which says that more than half of Canadian organizations are having difficulties finding workers with critical skills.

The report says that in 2005, it took an average of 40 days to fill vacancies in the technical and skilled trades. This number has now jumped to 60 days. Likewise, the average cost to fill vacancies in the technical and skilled trades was $3,000 in 2005, compared to $5,000 in 2016.

These troubles are expected to be exacerbated by baby boomers retiring.


The mass exodus from the workforce is also expected to tighten labour markets and slow down economic growth for the next four year, which could impact investment and salary growth.

In 2016, 243,000 people retired, and in that year, for every net new job created, Canadian organizations had to cover for the loss of 1.8 retirees.

The Conference Board says that businesses need a longer-term view of the factors affecting their workforce and to plan accordingly.

However, while workforce planning is a top priority for most Canadian businesses, only 37 per cent of surveyed companies told the Conference Board that their current business strategy is supported by a workforce plan.

“In a changing economic and demographic landscape, organizations wanting to smooth the resulting disruption need to plan their workforce as a longer term investment, rather than a short-term operational cost to achieve their strategic goals and remain competitive,” said Shannon Jackson, associate director, Human Resources Transformation Research.

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